The Utah Jazz front-office’s decision to trade All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in exchange for a boatload of first-round picks caused a whirlwind of reactions and emotions this offseason around NBA circles and especially in the Beehive State.
The rebuilding franchise made another deal, an under-the-radar move in comparison, that stung just as much for Jazz fans. Watching Bojan Bogdanovic, a fan favorite, get traded to Detroit was a tough one for many to swallow.
A night after scoring 22 points with nine rebounds to lead the Pistons to a thrilling 110-108 win at Denver, Bogdanovic will undoubtedly receive a warm welcome Wednesday night in Salt Lake City when he and his new team visit. It’ll be his first trip to Utah since being sent to Motown in exchange for Kelly Olynyk, Saben Lee and cash considerations.
Bogdanovic averaged 18.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists during his three seasons with the Jazz. He shot 44.7 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3-point territory and had many memorable moments that will live in Utah lore, including game-winning buzzer-beaters against the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets.
This unheralded trade has worked out well for both teams. Bogdanovic is leading Detroit in scoring with 20.5 points per outing, while Olynyk has played well in his role as the Jazz’s starting center. He had 19 points and seven rebounds against the Clippers on Monday. The big man is averaging 12.6 points on a career-best 54.7 percent shooting.
Wednesday’s game will also be a homecoming for Detroit guard Alec Burks, who scored 21 in the victory over the Nuggets. Burks spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career with Utah before being traded to Cleveland in his eighth season. He’s averaging 15.4 points in a reserve role for Detroit, his seventh NBA team in 12 years.
The efforts of Bogdanovic and Burks helped Detroit win its first road game after beginning the season with 10-straight setbacks away from Detroit, including the first three games of their five-game Western trip.
The win also snapped the Pistons’ seven-game skid.
“We’ve been fighting. I think we have been playing better basketball on this West Coast road trip,” Bogdanovic said. “It’s a big win for us. We’ve got the next one (Wednesday).”
Bogdanovic has fond memories of his time in Utah, and he hopes the Pistons can leave with one more good memory.
“I hope we’re going to play with the same intensity on both floors,” Bogdanovic said. “I spent three great years there and we had a great team. We’ll see (Wednesday) how it’s going to be.”
The Jazz are looking to rebound from a disappointing defeat in Los Angeles and a stretch of four losses in six games.
Utah overcame a double-digit lead against the Clippers in the third quarter with a 23-6 run only to fall apart in the fourth quarter when they were outscored 33-21.
“That’s a frustrating game,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “We played very well in stretches and we were extremely poor in some stretches. That cost us the game.”
–Field Level Media